There are many police officers out there who are respectable people that will not violate your rights. The reason I focus on the police who do violate our rights is because police have a power over individuals based on the fact that they are authorized to use force with the full backing of the government. If a random guy comes up to me and starts a fight, I have the right to self defense. The problem is when a man in a uniform initiates unjust force. You cannot exactly defend yourself against a police officer, even if he is in fact violating your rights–you will end up dead even if in the end the police officer is found at fault. People with power have even more responsibility not to abuse it, which is why I get so angry over the violation of our rights by the very people who are supposed to be protecting society.
Part of the reason of police, DUI, and DHS checkpoints is to get civilians used to being illegally searched, and part of the reason is to get police and other authorities used to conducting illegal searches which violate the constitutional rights guaranteed to all Americans. I would suggest refusing searches, and asking if you are being detained, or asking if you are free to go. There is only a certain amount of time that a police officer can detain you without cause. When you are not driving a car, and no crime has been committed, a police officer cannot legally force you to show your ID or identify yourself. I would suggest stating openly that you do not consent to a search, asking if you are free to go, and if the answer is no, asking on what grounds you are being detained. If these steps are followed calmly, many times police will allow you to go without much hassle, because they realize that they have no basis for detaining you.
The following video shows this tactic working at a DHS checkpoint. I was actually surprised how smoothly this went, and would guess it would not be this easy to overcome an illegal DUI checkpoint. This video is interesting because the initial officer manning the checkpoint has no idea the legal basis for the detention of vehicles at the checkpoint–probably because there is no legal justification to set up a checkpoint at which innocent people are searched without probable cause. He tells the man his basis for detention is the constitution, before getting his boss to handle the situation.
In the next video people are stopped by border patrol and DHS and asked if they are citizens. This is straight out of Nazi style “show me your papers”. And I understand that many of these individual officers are just doing their jobs, and I understand that many of these situations would be quickly diffused if they answered the question. That is not the point, the point is that the people refusing the checkpoints are exercising their rights as Americans to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure. “You are not satisfying my need to know that you are a U.S. citizen” one officer says. Since when do American citizens have to satisfy an official’s “need” to know something about an innocent civilian, without the due process of law? Unless there is probable cause or a warrant, government officials have no right to force any information from you. The same officer then tells the man that refusing to answer his questions is reasonable suspicion enough to initiate a search, which is not true. These are some people who successfully exercised their rights against illegal searches.
Another officer says “There should be no reason why… A normal person would allow us to run checks on their identification, to see if they happen to have criminal history or anything else like that”. This sounds a lot like the quote attributed to Joseph Goebbels (or sometimes Orwell’s 1984) “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear”. Most of the police use the excuse “I’m just doing my job”, or “you are impeding me doing my job”, as if the refusal to have your rights violated gives them just cause to violate your rights. Another officer says “I’m giving you a direct order”, as if civilians have to follow direct orders of law enforcement, simply because of the fact that they are law enforcement.
The point here is that we should not be allowing our rights to be violated just because an authority figure gives you orders. It can be scary dealing with the police, which is why this type of behavior needs to be challenged. The more people that speak out against illegal searches, the closer we get to reclaiming our fourth amendment rights. It should perturb us all that these checkpoints are routinely set up by federal, state, and local law enforcement who all have no problem violating our rights on a regular basis.